Ben Mourer's only 17, but he's already teaching lots of adults about hiking. As an official hike guide for the North Country Trail Association and the American Hiking Society, Ben leads adults and kids of all ages on trails near his hometown of Chicora, Pennsylvania. He sets up the hike, points out cool trees and animals along the trail, and helps keep hikers safe by bringing along first aid kits and extra water.
Ben started hiking seven years ago when he and his family decided to start spending some time together outdoors. He says hiking's a great way to stay active, and it's a lot of fun too! "It's fun to get away from things. There are things to see on the trail that you'd never see just sitting around in your living room."
Ben says it's important to get in shape before
you get out on the trail. Ben stays fit by running four miles, three times a week. He also plays soccer, and of course, he hikes! "Every time you go hiking, you feel a little more in shape," he says. So go hiking and go often!
After years of hiking, Ben was ready for an even bigger adventure. He decided to build his own trail! He put together a group of hikers, including his family, and helped build five miles of the North Country Trail, including two 30-foot bridges! He even won a special community service award from the American Hiking Society. Now people from all over the world come to enjoy the trail that Ben and his family built.
You can see some pretty strange things on a hike...like snow in the middle of June! Ben says the coolest (and coldest!) hike he ever took was in Colorado. "We were hiking to a place called Kelly Lake," he says. "We planned to make it there three years in a row. The first year we got really close, but we got snowed out...in June! The next year we got a little bit closer but we got snowed out again. The third year we finally made it to the lake!" It took a lot of determination, but it all paid off when Ben made it up 11,000 feet to the top of the trail.
Head For The Hills
If you can't make it to one of Ben's hikes, he says you should go to a state or national park and talk to the rangers about trails. "Start small," he suggests. "Try just a mile or two of trail. Take your time, and if you like it, move on to the bigger trails. Just keep working your way up." Go on now, take a hike!
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